As beings made in the image of God, we are made to relate to God and to enjoy Him forever. While relating to Him involves many things, private prayer and reflection on God’s truth are at the center of such a relationship. The Genesis narrative contains an interesting account of the way in which such personal devotion first began. Genesis 4:26 says, “A son was born to Seth also, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.” Though humanity originally enjoyed personal interaction in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8), such interaction was thwarted by the appearance of sin (Genesis 3:24). Since the fall, humanity has had to engage in personal worship in order to experience the presence of God. In the age in which we live, the Lord desires for people to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). If we want to experience the fullness of God, we must learn how to have a powerful devotional time. Corporate experiences of worship are important, but we will never grow into all that God wants us to be until we discover the secret of private worship (Matthew 6:5-15). Consider two keys to having a powerful devotional time.
Going into your quiet time without a strategy is a recipe for failure. Everyone needs a plan. I think of this in the same way that I think about quality time with my wife. Normally we have an agenda for our time together. If we are going on a date, we will usually pick a restaurant, a movie theatre, or a coffee house to visit. When we set aside time for evening conversation, we usually have one or two items we need to discuss. We aren’t frozen and rigid in the way in which we approach our time together, but we usually have a semblance of some sort of plan. Spending time with God should work similarly. Before you enter your prayer closet, think about what you are going to say.
Jesus modeled the need for such forethought in the prayer we commonly call the Lord’s Prayer. It is found in Matthew 6:9-13. Jesus didn’t give the prayer as a cold formula for one to recite from rote memory. Though there is nothing wrong with praying the prayer word-for-word, it is really meant to be a model for prayer. Our Lord showed us the types of things for which we should pray. When we talk to our Heavenly Father, we should give Him praise (Matthew 6:9), we should pray for His will to be accomplished in various areas of our life (Matthew 6:10), we should pray concerning our needs (Matthew 6:11), we should confess sin (Matthew 6:12a), we should pray concerning strained relationships (Matthew 6:12b), and we should pray concerning our temptations and weaknesses (Matthew 6:13).
Our Lord showed that we should enter our private times of worship with some type of plan. Doing so will help guide our time. Do you have a plan for your daily devotional time? Do you have a prayer list? Could you benefit from a Bible reading plan? From personal experience, I can say that a plan is pivotal in establishing a profitable time of personal worship.
If we don’t put it into practice, our quiet time is of little benefit. Jesus taught that obedience to His teaching is of paramount importance (Matthew 7:24-29). Though we may be good at being hearers of the Word, we must be vigilant doers of the Word as well. If we become negligent in this regard, we can fall into a scary place of spiritual self-deception (James 1:22). To be on guard, we must exercise intentionality. What are you learning in your quiet time? Are you making changes based on what God is teaching you? Maybe He has revealed some things about your attitude, your priorities, or your relationships. If so, make a commitment to make gradual changes. Keep a journal to record your new commitments. Pray about them. Talk to friends and seek accountability. If you want to have a power-packed time of personal worship, make sure that you implement what you learn.
Dr. Patrick Latham